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Tag Archives: brunch

Carrot-Raisin Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze

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My brain is in a major fog today. I have a bit of a cold, which is making my stuffy head feel like it’s going to explode. The baby has the same cold. I’m guessing his head also feels like it’s going to explode, since he’s been sleeping even more miserably than usual. And when he sleeps miserably, we all sleep miserably. It’s unfortunate, because I could really use a good sleep right about now. If only the dog could watch the kids for a bit while I took a nap…

Instead, I’m manning my post as captain of chaos central. The baby is howling in his crib, because he doesn’t want to take the nap he so desperately needs. The other two boys are healthy (thankfully) and buzzing with their normal dose of energy. And the dog, my only hope for a babysitter, just can’t decide which side of the door he wants to be on. Oh well…guess it’s just one of those days.

In other news, I’ve been back on track with my fitness goals for four days now. My little dietary hiatus resulted in gaining back about four of the pounds I’d lost earlier in the year, but I’m refocused and ready to get myself in shape, just in time for shorts-weather. I’ve put myself back onto phase 1 of South Beach diet, which always helps to reset my dietary habits. I’ve been enjoying cheesy morning omelets, protein-packed lunchtime salads, and veggie loaded dinners, with snacks of fresh veggies, roasted garbanzo beans, part-skim cheese and pistachios in between. I feel healthier already.

But, before I jumped back on my diet plan, we brought in Easter morning with these decadent pancakes. It’s taking every bit of my self control not to whip up another batch right now…well, that and the absence of a few crucial ingredients. These pancakes combine the flavors of a classic carrot cake with the feel of traditional pancakes for a really tasty breakfast treat. You could go heavier on the sugar and carrots for a sweeter, cakier result, but for me, these are just perfect. They’ve got the right balance of flavors and sweetness to remind you of carrot cake, while still maintaining the overall feel of a breakfast pancake. A simple cream cheese icing provides the perfect finishing touch.

And they’ve got carrots in them…so they must be good for you, right??

Carrot-Raisin Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • Butter, for pan

Directions

Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir with a fork until the ingredients are evenly dispersed. Add the milk, eggs, and vegetable oil (or melted butter). Whisk until combined. Stir in the grated carrots and raisins. Melt a little butter in a pan over medium heat. Add about 1/3 cup of the pancake batter to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until bubbles begin to appear on the surface. Flip the pancake and cook for another minute or two on the other side, until cooked through.

Drizzle with cream cheese glaze before serving.

To make the glaze: Combine 4 ounces of softened cream cheese with about 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Then, add a bit of milk, a tablespoon at a time, until the glaze reaches your desired consistency.

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Nutella and Strawberry Stuffed French Toast with Raspberry Coulis

I’m going to become an Irish step-dancer. Stop laughing… I’m serious. Well, that’s assuming I can find a dance teacher to take on this 35-year-old mess of incoordination, with zero dance experience, but a whole lot of passion.

It’s just always been one of those things for me. I regret never having done it as a child. Years ago, I told my husband that if we ever had a girl, I’d be signing her up for lessons as soon as she could walk, so I could live vicariously through her. He was smart enough not to argue with me on that plan. But since it seems we’re destined to create a big brood of boys (and they’re much more interested in busting ghosts than dancing), it looks like I’m gonna need to live this dream for myself. Probably best that I fulfill my own dreams anyway, rather than pushing them on my kids, huh?

I’ve contacted a few local Irish dance schools and have yet to find anyone offering adult beginners classes at a time and location I can get to, but I’ve not given up hope yet. This middle age mom is ready to show Michael Flatley who the real lord (rather, lady) of the dance is. Stay tuned…

We had a lovely Valentine’s Day around here, filled with enough delicious goodies to throw me off my diet for at least the rest of this week. Oh, but it was worth it. So worth it. I surprised my loves with this special breakfast, which had everyone oohing and ahhing with each bite. For a weekday breakfast, it’s surprisingly easy to pull off. Simply prepare the ‘sandwiches’ the night before, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. This will actually help firm up the Nutella, which will make the sandwiches easier to dip in the morn. You can cut the sandwiches into any shape or not cut them at all…though the scraps make a really nice snack with a glass of red wine…just sayin’.

Nutella and Strawberry Stuffed French Toast with Raspberry Coulis

Ingredients

For the French Toast:

  • 8 slices white bread
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 4-6 large strawberries, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
For the Raspberry Coulis:
  • 3/4 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions

Spread each slice of bread with a thin layer of nutella. (Fight the urge to spread it too thick.) Place the sliced strawberries on four slices of the bread, then place each of the remaining four bread slices on top to make four nutella-strawberry sandwiches. If desired, use a cookie cutter to cut the sandwiches into creative shapes. If preparing ahead of time, wrap the sandwiches in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Eat the scraps.

Lightly beat the eggs with the milk and salt. Melt a bit of the butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Dip both sides of each sandwich into the egg mixture. Place the dipped sandwiches in the hot pan and cook for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown. The nutella will become warm and melty. (It’s easier to carefully flip the sandwiches using a fork and your hands, rather than a spatula.) Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

For the raspberry coulis, puree the raspberries with the sugar. If desired, pass the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the seeds.

Diet  Update: Avoiding the scale like the plague this week and enjoying my valentine’s day chocolates. Will be back on track next week…promise!

Sausage, Biscuit, and Gravy Casserole

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Don’t you just love a good breakfast casserole? Something savory, made with eggs and cheese or maybe something sweet, like a French toast casserole, oozing with cinnamon and syrup? There’s just something so satisfying in its completeness.
For some incomprehensible reason, I’d never even heard of breakfast casseroles until well into my adulthood. It just wasn’t something my family ever made. My first experience with a breakfast casserole was at a monthly workplace breakfast. An unknown casserole sat on the table alongside the tray of bagels and bowl of fruit salad. One scoop of this casserole contained bread, eggs, sausage, peppers, and cheese. I thought, What brilliant genius created this complete breakfast in a baking dish? The following month, someone different made something nearly identical. My workplace was clearly dripping with geniuses. And the month after that, someone else made it again. Seriously, Mensa should send an evaluation team to this place.
Over the years since, I’ve enjoyed numerous breakfast casseroles from various coworkers, friends, and family members. It seems that everyone, except for me, was privy to this genius breakfast casserole idea. And I’m pretty sure that everyone is using the same secret recipe, for every one of these casseroles has been nearly identical (and equally delicious).
Recently, I fell upon a different version of a breakfast casserole that sounded too good to resist; a casserole of eggs with sausage, biscuits, and gravy. Ummm…can you say comfort food?? I’ve made this casserole twice now and it does not disappoint. In fact, my brother-in-law’s response to his first bite was something to the effect of, If I wasn’t already married to your sister, I’d marry this casserole. I’d venture to say that he enjoyed it.
I can not take credit for this recipe, nor can I cite the original creator. It’s one of those recipes which is all over the internet in a hundred variations. Perhaps you’ve already enjoyed something like this, but just in case you haven’t, I needed to share it with you. Make it for breakfast, brunch, or breakfast for dinner. Share it with your coworkers, friends, and family. You’ll be happy you did!
***
Sausage, Biscuit, and Gravy Casserole
***
Ingredients
  • 8 large buttermilk biscuits, frozen or refrigerated
  • 1 pound bulk breakfast sausage (without casings)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 envelope country gravy mix
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Directions

Bake the biscuits according to package directions, using the lower end of the recommended cooking time so they do not overcook. When cool enough to handle, cut the biscuits in half to create a top and a bottom. Set aside.

Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat, until fully cooked. Use the edge of a spoon to break the sausage into small pieces as it cooks.

Spray a 13×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the baking dish with the bottom halves of the biscuits. Scatter the cooked sausage on top of the biscuits. Sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups of the cheese over the sausage.

In a large bowl, whisk together the gravy mix, milk, and eggs, until well combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

Arrange the top halves of the biscuits over the eggs. Lightly press the biscuits into the egg mixture.

If desired, cover and refrigerate the mixture for a few hours or overnight.

Bake in a 350 degrees oven for 50-55 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the biscuits during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Spiced Fruit Bread Pudding

I was well into adulthood before I tasted bread pudding for the first time. Quite honestly, I didn’t really understand what it was and the thought of it was completely unappealing to me. Soggy bread in some sort of puddingy mix? Eww. I certainly wasn’t about to choose the bread pudding option over the 15-layer chocolate ecstasy cake on any restaurant dessert menu!

It wasn’t until I attended a Sunday brunch, at a restaurant which was local to me during my DC days, that I finally had the opportunity to try bread pudding. There, amongst the dessert table of fruity pastries, chocolate croissants, and elegant petit fours, was a large dish of warm bread pudding. This, my friends, is exactly why buffet-style dining delights my heart. I could take a risk-free scoop of that bread pudding without chancing disappointment and without the opportunity cost of my chocolate selection.

Imagine my shock upon taking my first bite of that bread pudding! That bread pudding schooled me, for sure. It was not the soggy, unappealing concoction I’d imagined it would be, but rather a sweet, luscious treat for my palate. Think french toast, but sweeter and richer. I was reformed that day. I’d even consider passing up a heavenly slice of chocolate cake for a scoop of warm, homemade bread pudding. Now, that’s saying something!

Here is my spicy, fruity take on a bread pudding; chunks of day-old French bread, topped with a spiced mixture of dried apples, apricots, and raisins, then baked to perfection in a sweet custard. Served warm, with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon, this treat would make a fantastic dessert or decadent brunch treat for any occasion or no occasion at all!

And if you’re ever in the DC/Silver Spring, MD area on a Sunday morning, check out the brunch at Mrs. K’s Toll House! Have a mimosa and a scoop of bread pudding for me while you’re there!

Spiced Fruit Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried fruits, chopped (apricots, apples, raisins…)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 6 cups stale French bread, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Whipped cream and cinnamon, for garnish

Directions

Place chopped fruits in a bowl. Stir together the apple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Pour the mixture over the fruits and allow to sit for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the melted butter into a large (about 2-quart) baking dish and swirl to coat the bottom and edges. Arrange the chunks of bread in an even layer in the baking dish.

Scatter the soaked fruits in an even layer over the bread. Drizzle any remaining liquid over the bread.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Pour the mixture over the bread and fruit. Press down on the bread to ensure that all pieces have been moistened. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the fridge and press down on the top again. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm, topped with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Cinnamon French Toast Bake

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I love brunch; that meal which is so perfectly placed between breakfast and lunch; a perfect excuse to eat breakfast foods at lunch time and spike your orange juice with leftover champagne from your New Year’s celebrations.

A few years ago, I awoke on the morning of a planned brunch with my sisters, set upon making some sort of French toast casserole. Much to my dismay, I quickly discovered that nearly every French toast casserole recipe called for resting the casserole overnight. Clearly, I was not prepared for this French toast casserole idea. But, not to be dissuaded by the small obstacle of time, I continued searching until I landed upon a French toast bake, which could be prepared and baked instantly, using prepared cinnamon rolls.

I made this Cinnamon French Toast Bake the morning of that brunch and a few times since, including this New Year’s Day. I’ve slightly modified the original recipe, which I found to be overly sweet and in need of a few additional minutes in the oven. This decadently sweet dish makes a delicious, special breakfast for Christmas morning, New Year’s Day, or a brunch any time of year!

Cinnamon French Toast Bake

Adapted from Pillsbury’s Cinnamon French Toast Bake

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Butter, melted
  • 2 cans Refrigerated Cinnamon Rolls (with icing)
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Light Cream
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 cup Pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Maple Syrup

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour the melted butter into a 13×9 baking dish. Tilt the dish so the butter covers the bottom. Cut each uncooked cinnamon roll into 8 pieces. (Set the containers of icing aside to garnish the finished French toast bake.) Scatter the cinnamon roll pieces over the melted butter. Lightly beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in the cream, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cinnamon roll pieces. Scatter the chopped pecans on top. Drizzle with the maple syrup. Bake for 30-32 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10-15 minutes. Slightly warm the cinnamon roll icing in the microwave for a few seconds. Drizzle the icing over the French toast bake before serving. (You may only need one of the icing containers.)

Serve with additional maple syrup, if desired.

In the mood for a good brunch? Here are a few other previously posted Gourmand Mom brunch ideas:

Traditional Eggs Benedict and Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict (with links to photo guides on poaching eggs and making Hollandaise Sauce)

Breakfast Pizza

Homemade Cream Cheese with Bagels

Brunchy Beverages

PB&J French Toast

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancakes

Brunch – It’s the meal that comes with a Mimosa

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There’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then there’s BRUNCH, the meal that comes with a Mimosa. Sign me up for that one! I do love a good, hearty brunch! Aside from enjoying my darling breakfast at lunch time, brunch usually means good times with good friends and family.

Yesterday, we hosted our first Brunch to BBQ party. And it was a fantastic success, though we never actually fired up the grill. We started with a wonderful brunch and several Mimosas. Then, we lied around on the living room floor until we felt like we could move again, watched a bit of the World Cup and then headed outside for a few games of Polish Horseshoes. My sister whipped up a batch of margaritas and the festivities continued. Later in the day, we enjoyed dinner and then relaxed in the backyard until it was time to sleep. A great day!

Here are a few details on the brunch…

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Ingredients

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Toast English muffins in a toaster. Place on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm while you assemble the other components. In a skillet over medium high heat, cook each slice of Canadian Bacon for a minute or two on each side, until it is hot and slightly browned. Place one slice on each English muffin in the oven to keep warm. Poach the eggs, according to the procedure shown here. Hold the eggs in the cold water bath while you prepare the hollandaise sauce (Recipe here). Prepare the hollandaise sauce and keep it warm above a bowl of warm water. Reheat the eggs by gently placing them in a pot of barely simmering water for about a minute. Remove the eggs and dry on a paper towel. Place one egg on each English Muffin. Top with a spoonful of hollandaise sauce. Serve immediately.  Serves 4


*As a little variation, use smoked salmon in place of the Canadian Bacon. Just don’t cook the salmon or put it in the oven!

Salmon Eggs Benedict

Brunchy Beverages

Brunch and Mimosas go hand in hand. Bellinis are another brunchilicious option. Both Mimosas and Bellinis are champagne cocktails. Mimosas mix orange juice with champagne while Bellinis traditionally combine champagne with peach nectar. About 2 ounces of fruit to 4 ounces of champagne should do the trick. Substitute other fruit nectars to make your own variation. For a non-alcoholic option, use ginger ale or sparking cider instead of champagne.

Mango Bellini

Homemade Cream Cheese with Bagels

Make your own flavored cream cheese by softening cream cheese and adding your own flavors. For today’s brunch, I made scallion cream cheese by mixing in a bunch of chopped green onions and an olive cream cheese using a mix of chopped olives. Sliced Spanish olives with pimento would work great too! After you stir in your flavoring, put the cream cheese back in the refrigerator to cool before serving. A few other ideas for homemade cream cheese flavors: Smoked Salmon, Strawberry, Veggie, Blueberry, Honey-Nut, Roasted Garlic, Sun-dried Tomato, Maple, Cinnamon Apple, Cherry Almond, Spicy Pepper.

Homemade Cream Cheese

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza

My sister treated us to her breakfast pizza, which as she explains, is based off of a breakfast pizza she saw offered at a Hess gas station. Imagine my surprise! Basing a dish off of something you saw at a gas station?? I suppose food inspiration can come from anywhere! I may base my next Beef Wellington off of Hess’ food offerings. All kidding aside, this pizza is delicious. It’s easy to put together and makes a great dish for guests.

Ingredients

  • 1 Prepared Pizza Crust (my sister uses a whole wheat crust)
  • 1/2 pound Bacon
  • 1 1/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup Cheddar, shredded
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Allow bacon to drain. Then, crumble it into small pieces. Reserve bacon grease. Whisk the eggs together with the milk. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and then cook in a pan until scrambled. Set aside. Brush the pizza crust with a bit of the bacon grease. Sprinkle about a cup of the mozzarella cheese over the crust. Top with the scrambled eggs and bacon. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and the cheddar cheese on top. Season with a bit of pepper. Bake for about 8-10 minutes.

Breakfast Casserole

Sarah's Breakfast Casserole

A good friend brought along a breakfast casserole, a delicious mix of eggs, cheese, bread, and sausage. She explained that ever since she enjoyed this dish at a friend’s house, it’s been her go-to breakfast recipe. It’s a great all-in-one breakfast dish that’s perfect for a crowd. My mother in law makes a similar casserole, but she uses peppers and onions too. They’re both delicious. I’ll have to get the recipes to share with you soon!

Part 1 of our day was perfect!  The food, the drinks, and the company were all amazing.

Round 1 Results: Food - 0 The Gourmand Mom - 1

To be continued…

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The Gourmand Mom

Good food, seasoned with a dash of life

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